- Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 10:17
- Published on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 10:17
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After only 4 meetings with Jerry Davis, Executive Director of the Northern Neck Planning District Commission (NNPDC), the Colonial Beach Revitalization Management Team successfully submitted an application for a Community Development Block Grant and was awarded the requested $747,000 last week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The block grant will fund revitalization efforts in the downtown area of Colonial Beach. The grant is referred to as the Revitalization Grant for clarity.
Colonial Beach has been working on its application for three years and this is the third submitted application. The town of Montross worked on its revitalization grant application for almost eight years but did not receive its grant until the Northern Neck Planning District Commission assisted in the application process.
These funds have been slated for eliminating blight, both physically and economically. The funds can not be used for anything other than for what the application states. Mike Ham reiterated to school supporters at the June 26 work session that these funds can not be transferred to the school system.
The revitalization grant comes from Federal funds but the State decides who will receive money each year. Although the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) funds the grant, Federal regulations place restrictions on how much the State provides for projects dealing with elimination of slum and physical/economical blight. Most of the money awarded through revitalization block grants must benefit low to moderate income citizens by offering jobs or housing. Last year the state only awarded about 5% of the money towards eliminating slum and blight.
The implementation of the grant will be overseen by Davis and the Colonial Beach Revitalization Management Team. As a condition of the grant, council and government officials will not have a say in how the money is spent but will be involved with the implementation process where needed. Strict guidelines must be followed in order to allow the town to enjoy the grant without a repayment penalty.
The main focus of the grant money will be on the “downtown area”, defined by the revitalization committee as located within the boundaries of Colonial Ave to Boundary Street and from the west side of Washington Ave to the Potomac Shoreline which includes the boardwalk.
The grant will provide economic restructuring which will include small business loans called Nano-Loans in the amount of one to five thousand dollars. The goal of these loans is to to help fill vacant commercial spaces, particularly in the Art District.
Design and installation of wayfaring signage will also help the downtown economy area. The revitalization team will continue tourism coordination with the Northern Neck Tourism Commission and Westmoreland County Tourism Council and encourage private investments that are independent but complimentary to the downtown revitalization efforts.
Physical improvements will focus on building facades. The town will also create a mural program, remove three utility poles on Taylor Street, replace a section of the boardwalks concrete from the Riverboat
Restaurant to Colonial Ave and repair concrete from Riverboat to Hawthorne Street.
Landscaping and outdoor seating will be added along the length of the boardwalk leading up to Colonial Ave where the group plans to turn the end portion into a Pedestrian Plaza using other grants.
The Pedestrian Plaza will utilize a rarely used portion at the end of Colonial Ave. Changes include providing landscaping, street furniture for seating and if the budget will allow adding a splash pad for children and adults to enjoy during the summer months.
Funding for the replacement of concrete and the Pedestrian Plaza will be paid for by a grant of $490,000 the town is seeking from VDOT.